Category Archives: Sheffield United

Is 3 5 2 The New 4 4 2?

This post looks at the emergnce if that is the right word of the 3 5 2 Formation.

Is it the new  4 4 2, which in recent years has become our default, almost formation in the English league?

The 3 5 2 Formation is not exactly new, and has been employed by a number of foreign coaches over the years, with great success.

How it works, is like this and it is accepted that there are variations of the formation, according to the coach or manager employing the tactic.

With that in mind, lets look at some of the teams who use this formation:

Accrington Stanley

AFC Wimbledon

Wolves

Newcastle United

Sheffield United

Czech Republic

MK Dons

The formation relies on the use of very speedy, and effective wingbacks.

Those Wingbacks can either be, Wingers, or they can fullbacks pushed up operating as wingers. Ashley Young is a great example of a winger turned full back over time.

If you are using fullbacks pushed up as wingers, then effectively you are leaving wingers redundant, which is in the case of AFC Wimbledon, who use 3 Central Defenders, primarily because Wally Downes who implemented the system is a defensive coach, so you could almost say he was using a 5 3 2 version, though that is digressing from the point.

The general idea is to play two full backs and one central defender, so that you keep the players positionally as close to their favoured posistion as possible, without too much disruption to the team flow.

The 3 5 2 offers a lot of flexibility to the changing needs as the game unfolds, compared to other formations, such as the 4 2 3 1, or the 4 3 3.

Wolves and Sheffield United are two great examples of this, because both clubs, have progressed through the English Football League Championship and now are in the premiership playing this formation.

It is a system that is very difficult to play against, because when it works well, the team employing it, very often outnumber the defensive team and always have the flanks overloaded through the use of the over lapping ‘outer’ defenders.

This is the reason, that Arsenal, struggled last night against Sheffield United, England came unstuck in their recent match against the Czech Republic, Wolves were able to go to the Etihad and beat Man City 2-0, while Accrington Stanley beat Ipswich on Sunday 2-0 in League 1.

In fact Sheffield United are probably the best example of how this system works effectively, because together with Wolves they have used the system the longest, Sheffield United started using it in League 1, when Chris Wilder took over.

The defending team, have absolutly no idea, where the attacks are going to come from, especially as in the case of Wolves, who employ an attacking midfielder in their version of the system, while Sheffield United, newly promoted, don’t.

It will also be interesting to see, if Newcastle United, continue to use it, because they have just reverted back to it, to cater to the teams strengths and in doing so, their results have improved.

The one downside to the system, is that though you have numbers in attack, should you get caught on the counter attack, if you lost possession, then you are liable to potentialy concede goals, through lack of cover.

Either way the teams listed in this article who use the system, will be worth following and their progress noted this season.

Gunning for the Top Four

Arsenal are a conundrum at the moment. It feels like there definitely is something up with them, but also like everything might just be going alright as Unai Emery attempts to move on from the Arsene Wenger era.

Opinion is generally split on whether the Spaniard is doing a good job or not, although last night’s 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United seems like it may have sent Arsenal fans over the edge. In fairness to Emery though, annoying the Arsenal fans doesn’t take much if you’re their manager.

The loss at Bramall Lane saw the Gunners spurn the opportunity to go third – and if they had won then perspectives today would probably be greatly different. 

But they did not, and their defeat was against a Sheffield United side who are not to be underestimated. The Blades are organised, well drilled and constantly surprising the Premier League with innovative tactics. It’s probably safe to assume that we’re all now up to date on the functions of overlapping centre backs.

Watching the game, it really didn’t feel like Arsenal were ever going to score. To use that old cliche, they could have kept playing till the next morning and still not have found a way through. 

Even recapping over the short burst of highlights Sky Sports graces us with on YouTube, there is very little for Arsenal to shout about from the game. Whoever was editing that video would have had a hard job scraping together three minutes of action. 

But it’s not like the Gunners lack any abundance of attacking talent. They have Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe as a ‘first choice’ front three. Then they also have the young talents of Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock. 

Behind them in midfield, they have the aggressive pairing of Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, as well as Dani Ceballos adding a bit more technical quality. 

With this considered, you feel that Emery should be doing better. It seems he is struggling to find a system to incorporate and fully utilise the talents of his squad. Sheffield United were superb on Monday night but with the quality Arsenal have, they really should have created more. 

If only they had a little bit more class in the final third. A proven creative, an assists machine. Someone who, preferably, had proven themselves on the world stage. 

The above is, of course, a thinly veiled reference to Meszut Ozil – the forgotten man at the Emirates. It’s only three years since he recorded 19 assists in one season, and it seems Arsenal are in need of his creativity now. 

But he generally remains on the bench or out of the squad, with Emery tight lipped about what exactly is going on. It’s a mystery that has, unbelievably, seemed to unite Arsenal fans behind Ozil. 

There are certainly failings on Emery’s part, but there are some things that just haven’t gone his way.

The Gunners have generally failed to recruit well in defence of late, and what they have to show for the fruits of their labour is a centre back pairing of Sokratis and David Luiz. This partnership has become something of a calamity duo, with Luiz’s failings in one on one situations becoming ever more apparent. 

And then there are the early season injuries to Hector Bellerin and new signing Kieran Tierney going against Emery. Arsenal look, on paper, relatively strong at full back with these two fit. Bellerin’s return is imminent while Tierney has apparently recovered. Emery’s unwillingness to throw him straight in, though, is yet another thing that is angering fans. 

So while some things are certainly not helpful for Emery, there are ways in which he could be doing better. Some fluidity and creativity is needed up front, and the ex-PSG manager desperately needs to find the best system for his talented front line. Most likely, it will involve some difficult decisions on who to leave out. 

So in the sense that Emery has gotten some good attackers and is blooding young prospects (which, thanks to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, we now know is the best thing in the world), he is doing pretty well.

But there is a lack of coherency and guile, as well as floundering attempts to find the best system for his side. And not to forget the shortcomings at centre back. So there’s some good, but also some bad.

With a fully fit and firing squad, Arsenal should really be aiming for the top four. The Gunners will not want another season confined to the Europa League. 

Match Preview: Sheffield United V Nottingham Forest

Sheffield United will be looking to bounce back from Saturday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Millwall when they face Nottingham Forest at Bramall Lane, on Friday lunchtime, kick-off 12.30pm.

The Blades, who have drawn the last two games, currently sit in third of the Sky Bet Championship following back to back 1-1 draws with Birmingham City and Millwall respectively, putting a dent in their hopes of automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Following the draw with Millwall, Blades boss Chris Wilder will be without three of his key players for the clash with Martin O’Neill’s Forest, defenders Chris Basham and John Egan are ruled out through injury and suspension respectively whilst club captain Billy Sharp has also been ruled out after he limped off during the draw with the Lions due to a hamstring injury.

Wilder confirmed the news of both Basham and Sharp would miss the game, at his press conference on Wednesday morning, saying: “Billy is out for the weekend and so is Bash, so that’s disappointing for myself and the football club.

“I’ve been consistent with my approach throughout the season, people have injuries and suspensions and we have to get over it, we’ve got good enough to come in and replace them.

“We will continue to monitor and assess, short-term they are out, but we will see how they go from Monday onwards, with a view to Ipswich.” he added.

Wilder continued:“The players were as disappointed as any supporter last Saturday, they care as much as anyone, including me.

“There is a lot of the line for them, individually and collectively, those boys care and they want to win.

“We’ve not been given anything, we’ve had to earn everything to get to this position and everything we’ve achieved has been earnt by having a go and coming roaring back to disappointments.”

The Blades will be hoping to get back to winning ways to try and help their quest of promotion as they battle with Leeds United for the second automatic promotion spot alongside Norwich City.

Nottingham Forest will be looking to get back to winning ways after three straight defeats when they face Sheffield United on Friday afternoon.

Forest boss Martin O’Neill will be looking for his side to respond to their three straight defeats against Chris Wilder’s highflying Sheffield United.

Since their last win against Swansea City on 30th March the Reds have lost three straight games against Rotherham United, Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers scoring two goals and conceding seven goals.

The Reds, who have an outside chance of the play-offs this season, currently sit in 11th in the table following one win in five games and will be hoping to claim a second win over the Blades this season following a 1-0 win at the City Ground in November 2018 thanks to Lewis Grabban’s 69th minute winner.

Martin O’Neill will know his side will have to be at their upmost best to beat Chris Wilder’s side at Bramall Lane if they are to have a chance of the play-offs this season, however, if he loses this game then the owners could end up running out of paticence with the former Reds midfielder as defeat at Bramall Lane will be four defeats in their last five games.

The fixture will be a tough test for both sides, however, Sheffield United may just have enough to beat MON’s Reds at Bramall Lane.

Prediction: Sheffield United 2-0 Nottingham Forest

You can catch the fixture live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event from 12.00pm.

Sky Bet Championship: The Race for Promotion

The race for promotion to the Premier League is hotting up with only eight games remaining of the regular Sky Bet Championship campaign starting this Saturday.

It’s a three-horse race for the automatic promotion spots with Norwich City, Sheffield United and Leeds United all battling it out for the top two spots in the division.

Leeds and Norwich have been the top two for most of the campaign this year, however, Leeds fell down to third prior to the international break following a 1-0 home defeat to Sheffield United which leaves Marcelo Bielsa’s side one point off the Blades heading into the final eight games of the regular season.

Here I analyse each of the teams chances of automatic promotion this season

Norwich City
The Canaries currently sit five points clear at the top of the table following the win over relegation threatened Rotherham United prior to the break.

Daniel Farke’s worked tremendously well throughout the campaign with a squad which finished 14th in the table last season and he lost key players from that season in the likes of James Maddison, Wes Hoolahan, Josh Murphy and Russell Martin who all played a big part.

Coming into the club is Finland striker Teemu Pukki, signed on a free from Danish outfit Brøndby on a three-year deal, Pukki has really took to life in the Championship scoring 25 goals in the division this season and for me if Norwich are to gain automatic promotion from the Championship the Finnish striker needs to find his scoring boots again towards the end of the campaign.

Remaining Games
30/3 Middlesbrough (A)
6/4 QPR (H)
10/4 Reading (H)
14/4 Wigan (A)
19/4 Sheffield Wednesday (H)
22/4 Stoke City (A)
27/4 Blackburn Rovers (H)
5/5 Aston Villa (A)

Out of their remaining fixtures I believe if Teemu Pukki finds his goalscoring boots and Norwich win four or more they’ve secured automatic promotion.

Sheffield United
The Blades are currently in second spot behind Norwich City and one point above Leeds United in the table so far following a surprise 1-0 triumph over Leeds United at Elland Road prior to the internationals.

Chris Wilder has got his side well-drilled and organised this season and the Blades have impressed me quite a lot this season when I’ve seen them, however, I still feel that they lack quality in the midfield and parts of that showed against Leeds prior to the international break.

A number of players have played really well and Wilder has worked his magic as his side finished 14th last season and are now in a three-way battle for automatic promotion.

Wilder has brough in some good players in the summer and January transfer windows including Oliver Norwood and John Egan, however, I believe that Billy Sharp is the Blades key man this season.

The former Doncaster and Leeds striker has netted on 22 occasions this season and has worked brilliantly with either David McGoldrick or Gary Madine alongside him in attack this season.

Remaining Games
30/3 Bristol City (H)
6/4 Preston (A)
10/4 Birmingham (A)
13/4 Millwall (H)
19/4 Nottingham Forest (H)
22/4 Hull City (A)
27/4 Ipswich (H)
5/5 Stoke City (A)

I believe Sheffield United have a chance of promotion, they need to match Leeds United’s results if they have any chance of promotion from the division.

Leeds United
The Whites are currently one point behind Sheffield United in third in the table so far following a surprise 1-0 defeat against Sheffield United at Elland Road prior to the internationals.

Marcelo Bielsa has got his side play high intensity football and this season it seems to have helped the players who were already at the club from last year and he’s worked tiredlessly to get them playing with the high pressing game for the full 90 minutes.

Bielsa’s sides are known for burning out, however, the Whites don’t seem to be showing this yet this season and it would normally start to show at this point of the season with his previous clubs.

Out of the squad that Bielsa has only Macedonian International Gjanni Alioski has played every minute of games that the club has played in and he’s still going right to the last minute for both club and country this season.

The player of the year so far at Leeds United, for me, is Kalvin Phillips. Phillips is dubbed as the “Yorkshire Pirlo” amongst the Elland Road faithful and has been impressive in his performances in defensive midfield or at centre back in which Bielsa has transformed him into this season.

The Whites have struggled with injuries this campaign otherwise I firmly believe they would be already in the automatic promotion spots heading into the final eight games.

Remaining Games
30/3 Millwall (H)
6/4 Birmingham (A)
9/4 Preston (A)
13/4 Sheffield Wednesday (H)
19/4 Wigan (H)
22/4 Brentford (A)
27/4 Aston Villa (H)
5/5 Ipswich (A)

I believe that Leeds will just pip Sheffield United to second spot in the table and go up automatically.

Automatic Promotion Predictions: Norwich City and Leeds United
Play-Off Winner Prediction: Sheffield United

Steel City chasers: as both United and Wednesday look to make the cut for promotion

Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday conjure classic memories from over the years, Chris Morgans tackling, brighty’s goal in the FA Cup semi final, Neil Warnock’s gesticulations, Billy Sharp’s Mr Socko Celebration, John sheridan and of course Sean bean in when Saturday comes…just me?

Chris Wilder’s side are flying high in 3rd place and are very much in the fight with Leeds and Norwich City for the Championship trophy. If results go their way the Blades could be top of the league with a win over their bitter rivals on Monday night.

The Blades are unbeaten in their last 3 matches and have won 4 of the last 5, only the crazy 3-3 draw with Aston Villa after Billy Sharps hattrick had United 3 up stops it being 5 in 5.

Star striker Billy Sharp will hope for a happier day out against the Owls Having failed to score against them in his last 5 games for Sheffield United.

Sheffield United will hopefully have defenders Jack O’Connell and George Baldock back with the former having missed the last 3 with a hamstring problem.

Form Guide WWWDW

Star man: Billy Sharp

Sheffield Wednesday are 12th in the table, getting into the playoffs looks a stretch as they are currently 6 points away with Derby, Bristol City and Middlesbrough all with a game in hand. This won’t stop them trying though as the Owls are in great form since Championship specialist Steve Bruce took over with 3 wins and 3 draws in his first 6 games. Steve Bruce has won 7 of the last 9 games against the Blades.

Bruce faces the club where he began his managerial career over 20 years ago, he’s a man who knows what this fixture means and he will have his players suitably up for the task, knowing a win for the Hillsborough club could put a massive dent in the blades automatic promotion hopes, an easy team talk for Bruce.

Wednesday could have defenders Morgan Fox and Jordan Thorniley Back fit after back and concussion problems.

Form Guide WWDDD

Star man: Adam Reach

The last 5 Steel City Derby results

Sheffield United 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0 Sheffield United 0 Sheffield Wednesday 0 Sheffield Wednesday 2 Sheffield united 4 Sheffield Wednesday 1 Sheffield United 0 Sheffield United 2 Sheffield Wednesday 2

The last 2 meetings between the 2 have ended in 0-0 draws, they haven’t had 3 straight league draws since 1993, so hopefully a passionate encounter at Hillsborough will end with a win .

Wayne Edge @oasis1711